July 21, 2016
Cheshire West Contemnor Jailed
Judge activates suspended sentence
On Wednesday 20 July 2016, sitting at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Mr Justice Soole found Robert Pickthall to be in flagrant contempt of an order imposed by Mr Justice Holroyde in November 2015 on an application brought by Cheshire West and Chester Council. Mr Pickthall is engaged in a campaign of harassment against employees of Cheshire West and Chester Council and subject to a permanent injunction aimed at stopping his actions.
The Judge activated the suspended sentence for contempt imposed by Mr Justice Holroyde following an earlier contempt hearing in December 2015 where Mr Pickthall was found guilty of eight deliberate breaches of an interim order imposed by Mr Justice Edis.
In sentencing Mr Pickthall, the Judge said, “All in all I can see no basis whatsoever for not activating the suspended sentence in full. These were flagrant and repeated breaches of the order made by Mr Justice Holroyde. There is no element of contrition or regret and the only course it seems to me the court can take is to activate the suspended sentence.
“In doing so, I bear in mind that the primary purpose of sentencing is to ensure compliance with orders of the court and the effective administration of justice. I can see no reason for giving any further indulgence by a further suspension.”
He imposed no additional penalty for the latest eight breaches.
Last week before Mr Justice King, also sitting in Manchester, Cheshire West and Chester Council successfully applied to strike out four claims brought by Mr Pickthall against the Council on the grounds that they disclosed no reasonable causes of action and each was an abuse of the process of the court. Mouldsworth Parish Council successfully applied to strike out a claim brought against it by Mr Pickthall.
At the same hearing Mr Justice King also acceded to Cheshire West’s application for an Extended Civil Restraint Order against Mr Pickthall to stop him bringing civil claims against the Council and its employees in the High Court and the County Court. He was already subject to an Extended Civil Restraint Order to stop him seeking to privately prosecute Council employees and then to judicially review the refusal of the magistrates court in the High Court.
5RB’s Adam Speker was instructed for Cheshire West and Chester Council (by its legal department) and Mouldsworth Parish Council (by Clyde & Co).
The Chester Chronicle: Northwich Man Jailed for Campagin Against Cheshire West Council
The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website includes a pdf of Soole J’s judgment.
UPDATE: On 9 August 2016 Mr Pickthall appeared before HHJ Gore QC at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre. He gave evidence under oath and expressed contrition for his previous breaches of court orders. He was held to have purged his contempt and released from prison. 5RB’s Felicity McMahon was instructed for Cheshire West and Cheshire Council.